Bernardo Daddi, Polyptych of San Pancranzio

Circa 1335
Tempera on wood
Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
Provenance: Church of San Pancranzio, Florence

Like other Madonnas of the early 14th century, Daddi's portrait of the child makes important departures from the formalism of the past. Like a natural child, the baby reaches for the stalk of lilies in his mother's hand while looking to her as if for approval, and he wears age-appropriate clothing. As in some of Simone Martini's Madonnas of the 1320s, his left hand holds a goldfinch. The bird and the lilies have their symbolic values, but these do not diminish the strong impression that one is looking at a fully human baby.

In other respects the work is formal and traditional. The Virgin is seated on a throne surrounded by angels and saints, six portraits flank the central panel, and gold is ubiquitous. The six saints are (left to right)

Above these six panels are twelve small portraits of the apostles. The predella features events in the life of the Virgin Mary: Joachim espelled from the temple, Joachim in the country with his sheep, Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gate, birth of Mary, Mary enters Temple service, blank, Annunciation, Nativity.

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Photographed at the Uffizi by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.